Methodology of Legal Research


The course "Research Methodology" aims to serve as a basis and an instrument for the
preparation of the master's dissertation that will allow the student to obtain a master's degree in Law. At the end of the semester, students attending the course will have developed the
necessary competencies to:

i) choose and delimit the subject of the dissertation;

ii) critically research and analytically treat information collected;

iii) to elaborate a project for the master's dissertation;

iv) to write the dissertation.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Soraya Nour Sckell


Weekly - 3

Total - 24

Teaching language



Not Applicable


Aragão, Alexandra, "Breves reflexões em torno da investigação jurídica", Boletim da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Coimbra, Volume LXXXV, Coimbra, 2009, pp. 765-794.

Cane, Peter, e Herbert Kritzer, The Oxford Handbook Empirical Legal Research, Oxford University Press, 2010

Cohen, Morris L. e Olson, Kent C ., Legal research in a nutshell, 12.ª ed., West Academic Publishing, 2016.

Eco, Umberto, Como se faz uma tese em ciências humanas , tradução do original, 7.ª ed., Lisboa, Presença, 1998

Gustin, Miracy Barbosa de Sousa e Maria Tereza Fonseca Dias, (Re)pensando a Pesquisa Jurídica , Teoria e Prática, 3ª ed., Del Rey, 2010

Larenz, Karl. Metodologia da ciência do direito, tradução do original por José Lamego, 3.ª ed., Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1997

Hespanha, António M., Como preparar uma dissertação: um guia em cinco pontos, 2009, disponível em

Hoecke, Mark van (ed.), Methodologies of legal research: which kind of method for what kind of discipline?, Hart, 2011

Hoffman, Marci e Mary Rumsey, International and Foreign Legal Research, a Coursebook , 2ª Edição, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012

Holborn, Guy, Butterworths legal research guide, 2.ª ed., Butterworths, 2005

Mann, Thomas, The Oxford Guide for Library Research, 4ª Edição, Oxford University Press, 2015

Meirim, José Manuel, Como pesquisar e referir em Direito, Coimbra Editora, 2008

Pacheco, J. A., e J. A. Lima, Fazer Investigação em Ciências Sociais. Contributos para a elaboração de dissertação e teses, Porto Editora, 2006

Park, Chris, "In other (people's) words: plagiarism by university students ¿ literature and lessons", Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28, n. 5, 2003, 471-488

Pereira Coutinho, Clara, Metodologia de Investigação em Ciências Sociais e Humanas: Teoria e Prática, Almedina, 2ª Edição, 2013

Putman, William H. e Albright, Jennifer R., Legal Research, Analysis and Writing, 3ª Edição, Cengage Learning, 2014

Quivy, R. e Campenhoudt, L, Manual de Investigação em Ciências Sociais, 3ª Edição, Gradiva, 2003

Sutherland-Smith, Wendy, Plagiarism, the internet and student learning: improving academic integrity, Routledge, 2008

Tomaél, M. I. (org.), Fontes de Informação na Internet, EDUEL, 2008

Unger, Roberto Mangabeira, What should legal analysis become?, Verso, 1996


Teaching method

Theoretical-practical class.

A first part of the class consists of the presentation of the contents of a
master's dissertation. A second part of the class consists of the presentation by the students of their
master's dissertation projects, so that they can be analyzed and discussed by the teacher and the other

Evaluation method

Essay, with consists of writing the Master's dissertation project, or written exam, without consultation, on the whole syllabus. 

Who write the Master's dissertation project can also take the final exam to improve the grade

Subject matter

I. Theoretical and methodological basis for the scientific research
1. The object of investigation
2. Methodologies and typologies of research
3. In particular: what is a dissertation on law


II. Research process
1. Identification of the problem and / or research questions
2. Bibliographic research and case law
a) Fundamental concepts
b) Research environments
c) In particular: research of legal sources
d) treatment of the information collected
(i) Reference management systems
(ii) Reading sheets
3. Bibliographical, legislative and jurisprudential review
4. Quantitative studies
5. Qualitative studies
6. Field research
7. Interview, questionnaire, form


III. Stages of the preparation of a master's dissertation
1. Planning
a) Set the theme
b) Choose the supervisor
c) Prepare the pre-project
2. Research
a) Where to investigate
b) Contacts with other researchers
3. Writing the project
a) Title
b) Delimitation of the theme
c) Formulation of the problem
d) State of Art
e) Hypotheses
f) Justification
g) Objectives
h) Tasks
i) Methodology
j) Schedule
4. The structure of the dissertation
i) Introduction
ii) Parts and Chapters
iii) Conclusion
b) Reference rules
i) Quotations
ii) Footnotes
c) Bibliography
d) Indexes
e) Abstract and keywords
f) Summary


IV. Ethical principles of scientific research and communication